Fireside school names principal

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After six years, the principal at Manachaban Middle School will be taking on a new position.

Thomas Elbel isn’t leaving Cochrane though. Rocky View School District has announced he will be taking the reins at the school in Fireside when it opens.

“I think it was time to move. My entire career, the longest time I’ve been at a place so far has been six years. I think, for me, it’s important to change environments after awhile,” Elbel explained.

Elbel has worked at a number of schools taking various positions since joining the district in 1998. He believes by trying new things, he gains new perspective and allows himself to become a better educator.

“Sometimes you need a new person to take the school to the next step, chapter or level, and sometimes it’s good to have that change. I don’t think change in one- or two-year increments is good because there’s no longevity to it. But I think six or seven years is a good chunk of time to spend at a school and then it can be time to move on.”

Elbel started his position with Manachaban in 2010 and values the experience the role gave him.

“Manachaban has been a fantastic opportunity for me. I feel like I’ve established a really good rapport with the community, I feel very supported by the community,” Elbel said.

The school opening in Fireside appealed to Elbel because it presented a unique opportunity.

“I would be lying if I said the fact it’s a new school wasn’t an attraction. For sure, it’s an opportunity as an educator you don’t get often,” he said.

“I’m thrilled about all that’s going to be involved in that. I’m full of expectations, and questions, and excitement about what that might mean.”

Elbel will be focusing his efforts on creating an identity for the new school and integrating it within the surrounding community.

“When I think about Manachaban, I have a pretty clear picture in terms of what I think Manachaban is and what it stands for, and I’m hoping the community would mirror that. In a new school, creating a strong identity with the school community and with the staff and the division will be one of my first tasks, even before the school opens.”

He also realizes the main purpose of the school – teaching children fundamental skills and knowledge – will need to be in the foreground of his focus as well.

The Fireside school will be for children in kindergarten through to Grade 8 and is slated to open in September 2017. Elbel will officially change positions in March 2017 in anticipation of the school’s opening.

“While I know what’s coming up and I’ve started planning stuff already, I’m still very much the principal at Manachaban.”

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